Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Wrestling What I Watched in 2007 Pt. 4, by S.L.L.

Nigel McGuinness vs. Jimmy Rave
ROH - 3/4/2007 - Liverpool, England
Fight Without Honor

Oh, Jimmy Rave, how I miss you. Well, I know you're not really gone, but working in TNA with Lance Hoyt is really as good as gone. I'm still amazed that after all the harping about ROH having a health plan when they started signing wrestlers to contracts, it turned out the plan was "if you get hurt and expect to be compensated for it in some way, leave". Well, not amazed, as that's the standard health plan for every wrestling promotion ever, but it makes you wonder why they bothered mentioning it in the first place. Jimmy's stooging here is so good, as it typically is. Liked his turning away and cowering after being backed into the corner. Not an uncommon spot, but Rave is such a great sniveling heel, it has a little extra something coming from him. Nigel controls early, before pulling out a chair from under the ring that gets dropkicked into his own leg. Rave starts slamming the leg into the apron, going to work on it and working towards the Heel Hook. Rave teases pulling Nigel's head into the post like in his match with Dragon from their last trip to Liverpool, but Nigel blocks and pulls Jimmy's shoulder in instead. Nigel slaps Jimmy silly, before pulling out a spare ring barricade. He sets it up across the apron and the other barricades, and Jimmy takes a nasty bump off of a flapjack onto it. Nigel goes back to the chair, but Jimmy takes his leg back out and hits a desperation knee. Nigel does a really good job selling the groin pull in this match, limping and grasping at it just right. Rave drops him with a swinging neckbreaker and sinks in a butterfly lock, but Nigel powers him into the corner. His leg injury slows him, though, and he can't maintain control long. Jimmy's appropriation of the Pedigree as a heel spot is still such an ingenious move. Surprised he didn't add the FU to his arsenal later in his run. Jimmy Rave's missile dropkick sends Nigel rolling back to his feet in the corner, allowing him to block a charge and power Jimmy overhead into the Tower of London for two. Jimmy blocks something onto the still bridged barricade, and turns it into an STO off the apron that bends the barricade in half. I thought judo was supposed to be gentle. Nigel sets the barricade back up on the apron, which is enough to stand it up since it's bent about 90 degrees now. Nigel Tower of Londons Jimmy gut first onto a set up chair, which might have been too nasty a spot at this point in the match for a two-count, but there you go. Nigel gets caught in a fluke takedown into the Heel Hook, which he very nearly taps to after realizing that he can't get a rope break in a Fight Without Honor. He manages to pull himself to his feet, and manages to chop Jimmy off, but downs the referee in the process. Nigel takes Jimmy to the apron, puts him on the top rope, steadies his wobbly legs, and drops him with a Tower of London that pulls Jimmy straight down onto the set-up barricade. And I mean straight down. He took the bump right on his forehead. It was Alzheimer's-inducingly crazy. Nigel rolls him back in for the cover, but the ref is still down (with a busted nose, apparently), and by the time his replacement hits the ring, Jimmy can kick out at two. Both men to their feet, slapfight ensues, Jimmy headbutts Nigel to stun him (which is just about the last thing I'd want to do there if I were him). Jimmy runs the ropes and hits a spear that sends Nigel staggering backwards into the ropes...and then coming out of said ropes with the Rebound Lariat. Jimmy ends his night of blunt physical trauma by underrotating on a backflip bump and landing on the back of his head before Nigel gets the three. Hell of a match, pretty much exactly what you want out of these two. Can't decide if this or the C.M. Punk cage match is Jimmy's best career match. Probably the cage match, as the drama was stronger there, and it had Prince Nana working ring side, which is always a plus. But it's close. And well, Nigel's been as good a worker as anyone in the world this year. This match was all about Jimmy eating hot firey death, but Nigel brought the goods, too, with his selling and babyface charisma. Real good stuff here, ROH always seems to bring the goods in Liverpool.

Jay Briscoe & Erick Stevens vs. El Generico & Kevin Steen, which becomes
The Briscoe Brothers vs. El Generico & Kevin Steen
ROH - 4/14/2007 - Edison, NJ

Hey, The Briscoes and Kevin Steen! I wonder if dudes will get dropped on their heads in this match. This is part two of the best of 9,000,000 series between the Briscoes and Steenerico, which, if I remember correctly, the Briscoes won 8,999,999 to 1. As it happens, this was the 1. A friend of mine made the observation that WWE has been doing this weird thing of late where a guy becomes #1 contender to a title, loses to the champ, but then keeps the contendership for some reason and keeps challenging for months on end before they finally win the belt. Think MVP vs. Benoit, Matt Hardy vs. MVP, and Batista vs. three different guys over the course of a year. And really, ROH has been doing the exact same thing this year, particularly with Nigel vs. Morishima and this feud, probably the most egregious example. The big difference here, of course, is that the eternal challengers never actually took the belts this time. I don't know whether that makes it better or worse. It's less predictable, but then it also makes you wonder what the point of dragging it out that long was. Still, if the matches are as good as people say they were, I suppose I can't complain. Still, it's weird booking. At least when the WWE does it, you get the sense it's because they run 800 PPVs a day, and they don't have much time to develop new rivalries in the several seconds between them. With ROH, it just makes it seem like their roster is shallow. Yes, yes, I know, their roster is pretty shallow right now, but you don't have to rub it in our faces. So, yeah, the match. Erick Stevens is pretty good. I was at the show on Long Island the night before this, where Aries brought Stevens into The Resilience (and where he announced the name "The Resilience", which drew a collective "WHAT!?" from the audience), and Stevens sort of accidentally turned into a local hero overnight with the "Choo-Choo!" bit. I'm from Huntington Station. My entire town's identity is built around the LIRR. Most of Long Island can get down with a train-themed wrestler. He also hits dudes hard and seems to have a good grasp on basic crowd control, so I'm happy to see that he's making it to some degree. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that before the No Remorse Corps ran in and Stevens got powerbombed onto the gaurdrail by Roderick Strong. Strong then casually turns to the camera and tells the viewing audience to "buy the shirt". I know it's not cool to like the No Remorse Corps, but I'd be lying if I didn't say they can do some fun heel shtick. Steen and Generico go to work on Jay, including a nice standing moonsault by Generico and a nasty standing Harlem Hangover by Steen. Deuling "Mr. Wrestling/Let's Go Briscoe" chant leads to Steen cupping his ear and covering Jay's in time, which was cute. This has been surprisingly tame vis-a-vis Fire Pro offense so far, which is fine by me, since they're about to be joined by a dude recovering from serious head trauma, and these guys' basic offense all looks really good. Crowd rallies behind Jay, who elbows out of a chinlock, runs the ropes, ducks a clothesline, rolls under another, and hits a superkick that Steen takes a great turning falling redwood bump off of. Think Bald Bull in "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!" when you down him with a jab to the face. Jay has to pull double duty as house afire, dropkicking Generico, sending Steen out of the ring, and then dropping Generico again with a release gourdbuster. Jay gets Generico up into a military press, but Generico slips behind him and pushes him to Steen, who tosses him up flapjack-style and catches him with a powerbomb. Generico looks to get the tag as Mark Briscoe runs out from the crowd and inserts himself into the match. Steen waves "hello" as he slingshots double stomps Jay. What a great dick this guy is. Steenerico goes for Doomsday Something, but Jay punches his way out, pushes Steen into the corner to crotch Generico on the top turnbuckle, and then tosses Steen overhead with a release German suplex before getting the hot tag to Mark. Mark hits a springboard dropkick before going house afire with his Tracy Smothers-inspired redneck chop-sockey offense. Jay looks for a J-Driller on Generico, but Generico escapes into and armbar, runs up the ropes and leaps off into a swinging DDT. Steen comes in and decides it's time to make with the headdroppery, scoring a Ki Krusher onto his own knee, which was as mean-looking as you might imagine. Mark Briscoe takes a lot of blows to the head in his match, including eating a half-nelson suplex, a yakuza kick, and another half-nelson suplex from Generico in quick succession, and while my conscious mind can recognize how stupid he is for doing this, years of wrestling fandom have left me dead inside to the point where I can't register the level of disgust that I kinda feel I should be able to. Steen pulls Mark to the outside and throws him head first into the guardrail, which Mark bumps off of and lands on the back of his head on the concrete. Jesus. Jay tries to help Mark up, but Steen bowls right into him, driving him into the guardrail. He throws Mark back into the ring and drops him with the Package Piledriver, which is like the seventh or eighth nastiest blow to Mark's dome in this match, before before rolling him to Generico for the winning brainbuster. It was a great match, don't get me wrong. Generico has become really, really good as of late, the Briscoes are great when they reel it in enough, and Steen's improved a lot, and he did some great heeling here. But I feel like a bad person after watching this match. I mean, I guess I should feel that way after every wrestling match, but this just rubs it in your face.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Phil's Ongoing 2007 MOTY List

1. Nigel McGuinness v. Bryan Danielson ROH 6/23
2. Nigel McGuinness v. Samoa Joe ROH 3/3
3. John Cena v. Umaga WWE 1/28
4. Eddie Kingston v. Chris Hero IWA-MS 9/29
5. Bryan Danielson v. Takeshi Morishima ROH 8/25
6. Nigel McGuinness v. Takeshi Morishima ROH 4/14
7. Chris Harris v. James Storm TNA 5/13
8. Jimmy Jacobs v. B.J. Whitmer ROH 3/4
9. Samoa Joe v. Takeshi Morishima ROH 2/16
10. Matt Hardy v. Finlay WWE 6/19
11. Shawn Micheals v. John Cena WWE 4/23
12. Jimmy Jacobs v. B.J. Whitmer ROH 3/31
13. Solar 1/Mano Negra v. Negro Navarro/Black Terry Lucha Libre VIP 3/10
14. MNM v. Hardy Boyz WWE 1/28
15. Briscoes v. Ricky Marvin/Kontaro Suzuki NOAH 1/21
16. Bryan Danielson/Takeshi Morishima v. KENTA/Nigel McGuiness ROH 5/12
17. John Cena v. Great Khali 5/20
18. Mitsuhara Misawa v. Bison Smith NOAH 6/3
19. John Cena v. King Booker v. Bobby Lashley v. Mick Foley v. Randy Orton WWE 6/24
20. Necro Butcher v. Jay Briscoe ROH
21. Briscoes v. Murder City Machine Guns ROH 4/28
22. Finlay v. Undertaker 3/6 WWE
23. Briscoes v. Kevin Steen/El Generico ROH 4/14
24. Colt Cabana v. Jimmy Jacobs ROH 2/24
25. Takeshi Sasaki v. Yuki Miyamoto BJW 3/14

Previously on the list

Necro Butcher v. Toby Klien CZW 1/13
Chris Benoit v. Chavo Guerrero WWE 1/16
Shinjiro Ohtani/Takao Omori/Kazunari Murakami v. Kohei Sato/Hirotaka Yokoi/Yoshiro Takayama Zero 1 1/19
BJ Whitmer v. Jimmy Jacobs ROH 1/27
Nigel McGuiness v. Jimmy Rave ROH 3/4
Matt Sydal v. The Man Gravity Forgo PAC ROH 3/4
Matt Hardy v. Ken Kennedy WWE 3/13
Samoa Joe v. Eddie Kingston FSM 3/17
Takeshi Morishima/Mohammed Yone v. Jun Akiyama/Takeshi Rikio NOAH 4/1
Undertaker v. Batista WWE 4/1
John Cena v. Shawn Michaels WWE 4/1
Chris Benoit v. MVP 4/10
Yuji Nagata v. Hiroshi Tanahashi NJ 4/13
Davey Richards/Roderick Strong v. Jack Evans/Delirious ROH 4/14
Mitsuhara Misawa v. Takuma Sano NOAH 4/28
John Cena v. Great Khali v. Umaga WWE 6/4

1. Nigel McGuinness v. Bryan Danielson ROH 6/23

Man alive, this is how you end a PPV. These guys have a real formula worked out with each other, and it is really great to see how they adjust that formula in their different matches. I loved all of the opening matwork, all of the stuff with Nigel in the guard, and Danielson digging his knuckles into the temple was spectacular, I loved how they did the MMA spots, but made them pro-wrestlingy. I thought the selling in this match was actually pretty top shelf. Nigel often works restarts into his big matches, but here he kind of did mini-restarts throughout the match, toughing his way through moves he normally does easier. The fighting into the Tower of London was especially awesome. This match really felt like it was the stylistic offspring of all of those Regal v. Benoit matches, like this was the main event match those two never got to have with each other. Of course it is hard to watch both of these guys slam their heads into each other until they bleed without thinking about ghosts. Still great art is often tinged with tragedy, and this is the best piece of wrestling art this year.

4. Eddie Kingston v. Chris Hero IWA-MS 9/29

2007 is the clearly the year of the Last Man Standing match. I still prefer an old fashioned Texas Death Match, but that is mainly because I am official old and cantakerous. Last Man Standing does allow you to hit big crazy moves without preposterous kick outs, and man alive did these two take advantage of that. The nerd in me really loves this feud because they run it in so many promotions. These guys hate each other, and will try to kill each other where ever they are, it's like Dusty and Funk, if they are in a promotion together, they are making each other bleed. They start out brawling from the locker into the crowd, and they are really laying into each other in super awkward ways, throwing chairs recklessly, punching each other in the nose, headbutts. They both keep grasping for the other persons eyes to break holds, it wasn't a wrestling eye rake, but more like a bar fight eye rake. Kingston is a really great in ring shitalker and he is always badmouthing Hero, "kill me motherfucker, you better kill me." He also does a great job with wobbly half concussed selling, Hero is also great doing his indy horseshit gimmick in a sick brawl, I loved the Cloverleaf while sitting in a chair. After they get into the ring the white hot death ensues, and there are sick bumps galore. Hero doing the Hero's welcome off the top with the chair around Kingston's neck, Hero double stomping a rail on Kingston. The finish was Kingston hitting three backdrop drivers on Hero, with the third on a propped up guard rail which is just uncalled for. Ended when it should, filled with horrific violence, this is all you could possibly ask for.

5. Bryan Danielson v. Takeshi Morishima ROH 8/25

Morishima has been kind of a weird guy in 2007, completely inconsistant, he has been in a lot of very good matches, matches on this list, and things that just missed making it, however he can also be in some train wrecks. Weirdly alot of his worst matches came against guys he trained with in Japan, the KENTA abortion for the title, some really lackluster tags. This was the best match of his career, and it feels like a Bryan Danielson show. Morishima is at his best when he is a fat dude kicking peoples ass, and at his worst when he works like a junior who is retaining water. One reason this update has taken so long is that I have been engrossed in Mid-South and UWF for the 80's project. They have a ton of big bumping big dudes. Terry Gordy bumpes huge, One Man Gang bumps huge, even Kamala will fly all over the ring. What really seperates One Man Gang from Morishima at his worst, is that when the Gang bumps for a Duggan punch it feels like the felling of a redwood, sure the bump is impressive looking, but so is an avalanche. While Morishima when he works with juniors has these athletic bumps, that look like athletic bumps. He bumps for KENTA the same way Marifuji does, he will also bump early and often so they don't mean very much. What makes this match so great, is that he worked this like the One Man Gang. He is a giant dude who will kill you, and you had better chop away at, if you have any chance of knocking off his feet.

The early Marco Ruas leg kicks by Dragon were great, and I dug the fuck out of Morishima wincing but moving forward. Then the ass beating commenced. Dragon has a ton of over finisher, so he can really mix a bunch of believable near falls. Still Morishima was killing him, nutty lariet, sick backdrop suplex, plus in some ways the injury added to the match. Morishima looked like a killer here which is how he should pretty much always look.

20. Necro Butcher v. Jay Briscoe ROH 10/6

The Age of Fall's entrance music is women screaming, and I wonder how many erections that popped among the social degenerate Jersey ROH fans. Jay's new neck tattoo is #1 and the best. The match itself was pretty godamn great, both guys beat the everloving shit out of each other and I liked how they brawled to each part of the crowd, giving every fan a chance to get run over. Necro takes his requisite five insane bumps. Still the thing that ruled the most was their end of the match punch exchange, Necro's right hand looked Pavlikesque. Jay really needed to bring it a little more on the comeback, it's the Necro Butcher, punch him in the face. For a guy who a large minority of the ROH board hates, and works nothing like the ROH archtype style, it amuses me how often Necro Butcher works main events. I actually have to give Gabe some credit there, and I am all in favor of Necro mained ROH cards.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Wrestling What I Watched in 2007 Pt. 3, by S.L.L.

John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton
WWE - 4/29/2007 - Atlanta, GA
WWE Heavyweight Title Match

Man, WWE and TNA suck at using text message polls. Vote for who you think is going to win. Whee. Cena gets 50% of the votes, because IT'S SO PREDICTABLE HE ALWAYS WINS YOU GUYS! Like it matters. A man dressed as a salmon could run in, get pinned by Cena, and win the Title as a result somehow. That would be unpredictable. Unpredictable doesn't mean good, and predictable doesn't mean bad. Most Cena haters seem pretty dense, but they could at least be dense and honest. Cena gets an overwhelmingly positive reception from this crowd, too, which I was not expecting. Can't say I have an explanation for that. Maybe the mechanics of the Fatal Four-Way causes the crowd to split in just the right way. I don't know. And on cue, a pocket of "Cena sucks" chants pop up. I feel grounded again. God, Michaels punches look so much better when Cena's taking them. It's almost like he's a good wrestler or something. There's some fun four-way spots here. Multi-man matches often stink, but the logic is that matches with an even number of men are better than those with an odd number, since everyone has someone to fight. But this isn't worked as multi-man matches usually are, where two guys are in the ring at any given time having "their turn" while the others are killing time fighting on the outside. This is worked as intricately Patterson-booked Royal Rumble type match, where combinations of wrestlers take turns running carefully orchestrated exchanges designed to highlight certain aspects of the match, the angles around it, and the wrestlers' gimmicks in general. Really felt like Hogan vs. Warrior style match where it's scripted move-for-move. Not saying that as a knock. Randy Savage is one of my all-time favorites, it's not like I have a problem with carefully scripted matches. There's a reason why that style came to the fore, it helps ensure a good match from guys who might not otherwise deliver. I don't know if that would necessarily be the case with this match, but that's why they do it, and they came up with some real good stuff here. Cena's F-U attempt on Edge into a 2-in-1 F-U attempt on Edge and Michaels into Michaels escaping into the RKO was really swank. Cena breaks up the pin but turns around into Edge, who dusts off the Impaler for two. Really great finisher exchange at the end leads to Cena getting his chin Sweetly Musiced or whatever, but he falls onto Orton for the pin and retains the belt. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a better four-way. For multi-man WWE Title matches on PPV, not sure why Phil has the five-way from Vengeance ahead of this. Man, Cena was awesome this year. If only Jesus would let Shawn turn heel.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Yuji Nagata
NJPW - 4/13/2007 - Osaka, Japan
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match

I'm excited at the prospect of watching this match like I'm excited by a bowl of rice. And not even a bowl of really good basmati rice at a fine Indian restaurant, either. Just a plain ol' bowl of rice. Still, I've been interested in both of these guys to some degree at some point in my life, and it is a pimped match, so maybe I will have to re-evaluate them in the '07. I did really like Nagata's match with Giant Bernard last year, and the general opinion of my internet street peoples is that Nagata has improved drastically since his days of being a less exciting, slanty-eyed Kurt Angle, so who knows? The big question mark here is Tanahashi, who hasn't excited me for a couple of years. During the build-up to this match, KrisZ reported....

"Yuji Nagata declared war on Hiroshi Tanahashi today regarding their IWGP Heavyweight Title match on 4/13 in Osaka saying that the fans of Osaka want to see matches filled with hatred and passion and that he knows he can deliver that but can Tanahashi."

To which I fired back....

"Knowing Tanahashi, I would assume the answer is an emphatic "no", but either way, I, for one, heartily approve Nagata's desire to bring the pain."

So you could imagine my disappointment at Nagata dominating the opening portion of the match with arm holds. Still, arm holds are okay. Won't fantasy book this like Jailbird Coey. It's Tanahashi who starts bringing the pain. Well, he tries anyway. His strikes are all flailing and awkward, and Nagata half-sells them accordingly. Then Nagata starts laying in the kicks and everything is right in the world again. Booking Tanahashi as weaker underdog getting the fuck beat out of him by angry Nagata is actually a really good way to cover for the fact that Tanahashi can't strike for shit. Tanahashi takes the advantage and slams Nagata's leg into the post, drawing some boos. He starts targeting Nagata's leg with dragon screws and a figure-four as the crowd seems to have turned him heel. Boy, this match is full of surprises. It works, though. They roll with it, and Tanahashi becomes the cocksure youngster who thinks he's the man, taking it to beloved "old man" Nagata, going after his legs with abandon. Nagata transitions rather smoothly for grouchy old guy brawling to sympathetic old guy selling, and it occurs to me that Nagata is really, really good now. Nagata gets caught in a flurry of kicks, but grabs a boot and drives Tanahashi into the corner with a kneelift. Putting him up top, he drops him with a super fisherman's buster that the announcers insist was an Exploder. Another running kneelift into the corner gets blocked and turned into a powerbomb by Tanahashi, but he can't put Yuji away. Tanahashi comes of the top with something, but Yuji gets the knees up, and you almost think that a major Japanese match in the 21st century is going to end on a roll-up, but it doesn't. Actual hot finishing sequence ensues, culminating in a pair of Nagata backdrops, the second of which is held for the pin and the title. Great match. This should steady my nerves, as I can go through the rest of these knowing that not all puro in 2007 was sad and disappointing.

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